Putting Food First in the Constitution of Ecuador
by Karla Pena
Ecuador established Food Sovereignty in their Constitution approved by a referendum vote of 64% of the population on September 28, 2008. The people of Ecuador have the right to "Good Living," a healthy environment ecologically harmonized to guarantee the right to food. The State will enforce the established rights to aid in recent food price increase and localize their food systems by supporting their small and medium farmers in sustainable development (Agroecology).
Is this new constitution a prototype that other countries can look to?
General Characteristics of Food Sovereignty in Constitutional Law – Ecuador
Ecuador will Promote food sovereignty by transforming the national agro-food system; introduce organic and ecological technologies for sustainable agricultural production, adopt fiscal and redistributive policies to increase resources for farmers to protect the national economy from food import dependency and prohibit the use of biotechnology and genetically modified seeds harmful to human and environmental health.
Good Living Regime
Biodiversity and Natural Resources
Ecuador and the public will conserve their agricultural, wild and genetic biodiversity by declaring their land free of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops. The President and the National Assembly under exceptions have the power to introduce GE seeds and crops regulated under strict bio-security standards – genetically modified organisms will not be used or developed if they intervene with Food Sovereignty or human and environmental health (Article 15). Extraction of non-renewable resources are prohibited in protected areas and production of monocultures will be avoided for reforestation and rehabilitation of the soil. The state will also protect the intellectual property of collective work based on national biodiversity and begin to recognize the Rights of Nature (Article 71-74).
Constitutional Mandate for Agriculture– Number 16
Mandato Agricola –Establishes a Food Sovereignty Program financed by the General State Budget by public revenues from petroleum until December 2009. The program aims to secure food sovereignty by offering agricultural subsidies to small producers and exporters. The Amendment is subject to be replaced or modified as the constitution integrates to the governance system.
The FAO reports the following countries are promoting the Right to Food;
Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Congo, Malawi, South Africa, Etiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, India, Bangladesh, Iran, Sri Lanka and the Ukraine.
Full Text - Constitution of Ecuador - Spanish
Article 281 Food Sovereignty
Food Sovereignty constitutes an objective and strategic obligation from the State to guarantee its people, communities, pueblos and nationalities self sufficiency in healthy food, culturally appropriate in a permanent form
1. Incite production, transformation of the agro-food and fishery of small to medium size units of production, communities and social and solidarity economies.
2. Adopt fiscal politics, tributaries and tariffs to protect the ago-food sector and national fishery to avoid dependency on food imports.
3. Strengthen diversification and the introduction of ecological and organic technologies in the production of agriculture.
4. Promote redistributive politics to permit access to farmers to soil, water and other productive resources.
5. Establish preferential financial mechanisms for small and medium producers, facilitating the acquisition of the means of production.
6. Promote the preservation and rehabilitation of agro biodiversity linked to ancestral knowledge; likewise its use, conservation and free seed exchange.
7. Ensure that animals destined for human consumption are healthy and raised in sound environments.
8. Assure the development of scientific investigation and innovative technologies are appropriate to guarantee food sovereignty.
9. Regulate under bio-security standards the use and development of biotechnology, including experimentation and commercial use.
10. Strengthen the development of organizations and networks of producers and consumers and the commercialization and distribution of food to promote equity within rural and urban spaces.
11. Generate just and solidarity systems of distribution and commercialization of food. Impede monopolistic practices and any type of speculation with food products.
12. Supply food to the victims of anthropogenic or natural disasters in risk of accessing food. International food donations should not affect health or future production of local food.
13. Prevent and protect the population from consuming contaminated food or places their health in risk or if science has uncertainties of its effects.
14. Acquire food and primary materials for social and food programs, prioritizing in associative networks of small producers.